A Social Security hearing is an informal proceeding. Those present in the courtroom are you; me, as your lawyer; the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), either in-person or on a TV through video-teleconferencing; the court reporter; a vocational expert; and often a medical expert. At the beginning of the hearing, the ALJ will place you under oath, so that you will give sworn testimony. Then, both the ALJ and I will ask you questions about your disability, the treatment you receive for your disability, and how your disability and treatment affect your day-to-day life. For instance, you will initially have the opportunity to tell the ALJ how far you went in school and about your employment history. Then, you can explain to the ALJ what disability you have and how that disability prevents you from working. After that, you will describe the doctors you have seen, the medications you have been prescribed, the physical therapy exercises you have done, etc. The ALJ will want to hear your testimony about how all of your different treatment has not cured your disability and why you cannot go back to work. And, just as important, if your prescription medications, for example, have negative side effects that make it difficult for you to work, the ALJ needs to know that, too. Your Social Security hearing is literally your day in court. This hearing also shows the importance of getting treatment for your disabilities. Your testimony must be supported by objective, medical records and evidence. Your testimony and what the doctors say disables you must agree. After you testify, the ALJ will hear from the medical expert (if present) and the vocational expert. The medical expert will give his or her opinion of what your disability is. The vocational expert will testify last, and this person’s testimony often sounds foreign and confusing. Basically, a vocational expert is a professional at placing individuals in different jobs and providing testimony at Social Security hearings about what sorts of jobs you can or cannot do, based on your disability. After all this testimony is collected, the ALJ will take your case under advisement and we await the decision!
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